This was a quick study that I did some time ago. Since I’m working on something else right now, I’m not able to post that painting until it’s finished. Pastels go through an ugly stage that I don’t share with anyone. My husband used to pass by my works in progress and think the paintings were horrible, but then would be surprised when he saw the finished product. He would be seeing the first layer of pastels. Although all the layers contribute to the final painting, they sort of disappear eventually – or visually mix together. So the first layer is usually the undertones, the shadows and might not even be the right shape yet. It’s all very scratchy and scrawly. It’s a different story when using an underpainting though and one of these days, when I have a chance, I’ll post that process.
Hopefully the new painting will have the same energy that this does. However, there won’t be any bouganvillas in it, but plenty of other flowers.
This is from Adams Ranch in Ft. Pierce, FL where the live oaks grow undisturbed. They are huge trees with far reaching limbs. A bit farther down this dirt road on the ranch is a picnic area with a giant tree house.
I’m getting ready to start a new commission and while taking stock, making sure there were plenty of pastels in the box and planning my approach this painting came to mind.
The new painting won’t have a path with dappled light but many of the colors will be the same, as well as the size.
For the 2012 Sketchbook Project (I’ve put a link over there on the right for ArtHouse Coop) I wanted to do something different. It’s a great way to try out new things and experiment. There is a large portfolio in my supply closet with assorted handmade papers so it seemed a good place to start.
Some of the papers were crinkled up and colored with water colors – sort of dyed. The colors made a small palette of purple, green, blue and orange. Then of course there was white paper. One piece of paper was hand made mango paper – appropriate for my part of the world. My decision was that the sketchbook would be all about paper as a medium.
Although collage is not one of my mediums – it seemed the right thing to do.
The Sketchbook Project is fun to do and I’ve just signed up for the 2013 project. In a nutshell – you sign up, pay for a blank sketchbook plus touring expenses and when you return it to the ArtHouse Coop it is cataloged and then goes on tour.
Here are some pages from my 2011 sketchbook – my theme was “Down my Road”, so these are all very local scenes.:
and last but not least because it is once again that great spot on the Loxahatchee River:
There were many more pages but this is enough to give you the gist of the sketchbook. The method that I used was fun. The first sketch is with watercolor crayon, then apply water, let that dry, use the marker pens to outline or do some fancy scribbling and then a final layer of gray or white on top for atmosphere.
I’ve scanned in the 2012 sketchbook but haven’t downsized the files yet. Will post soon.
Now I’m looking forward to the 2013 project and hope I don’t procrastinate as much as I usually do finding myself filling the book two days before it’s due.
The magnolias are blooming like crazy this year – or more than they have in the past – I tend to exaggerate. We have two trees in the yard. One in the front and one in the back.
They are the big trees with the big flowers. They smell great! Some magnolia trees in the neighborhood are dwarf trees with the big flower, which is nice because the flowers are lower. With the big tree it’s hard to even get a good photograph of the blooms because they are so high. However, once in awhile, if you can catch it at the right moment (the flowers peak on one day and then they’re done!) blooming on a lower branch you’ll be able to at least have a photograph to work from.
Here is one of my favorite painting spots at Jonathan Dickinson State Park on the bank of the Loxahatchee River. In the past I’ve seen very large gators here and often there are kayakers going by too. Not together.
This first plein air is done on an 8×10 panel that I made with a gritty coating to give the surface texture. It’s done in pastels, pure brilliant pigment – in stick form – better than crayons!
Next on the Loxahatchee, same place different day and time, was also a textured panel – much bigger and was done as a class demonstration. The class wanted to also see how to underpaint so I used some rubbing alcohol over the pastels, which solidified the background. Then I waited a bit for the painting to dry and finished the pastel on top.
Wait, I’m not done – there’s one more for now – this one is same place – of course a different day and time and different paper! Viewpoint is slightly farther down on the river bank. This one is my favorite – it too has an underpainting – this time with watercolor.
The watercolor underpainting is a great tool. You can get some great darks in without getting too messy and build some beautiful shadow areas. Also the pink undertone in the sky and water adds luminosity and air.
Looking at all these together like this makes me want to go there again.
I can’t promise that these are all the paintings that I have done or will do of the Loxahatchee River.
Hobe Sound Rose – Pastel on paper – no camera involved (except to photograph the painting, that is) – a rose that I grew and a pot that I made.
The inspiration to paint can come from so many places……….. and yet there are some days you say to yourself, why paint? Sometimes my inspiration is to just improve myself. Most of the time I’m overwhelmed with ideas and objects that inspire me and then the thought runs through my head that I might be insane. But that’s a whole nuther topic.
“Drawing as a means of expression is the justification of art over photography.” Andrew Loomis, Creative Illustration, 1947
How cool is that? We’re still discussing this today in 2012, yet some people have never even been made aware of it. It bothers me that there are so many people that judge good art by how close to a photograph the painting it is. Not to mention the hyperrealist or photorealist painters that have the goal of painstakingly reproducing a photograph. As if the photograph were the standard that paintings had to live up to.
Don’t misunderstand and think that I’m not in favor of photography because I love photography! It seems that over time artistic goals have sometimes become distorted.
Mr. Loomis was directing this to the art student (in the 1940’s!!!) and comparing original illustration to photography which he said couldn’t provide the expressiveness that the artist could. He doesn’t throw photography out the window but at that time guides the artist to understand they aren’t being replaced by a camera. Even though we now have the means to be more expressive with digital applications, the camera still can’t produce the surface and line quality nor the atmosphere and character that original art can.
So that is why you paint – to go beyond the photograph with your personal expression of the poetic landscape (or what ever your thing is). One good reason, anyway.
Sometimes it seems that things and/or thoughts are presented to you by some unseen spirit and you can’t help but think it must be meaningful. Kismet. Destiny. Some amazing global consciousness! Why else would all of these things come together at the same time?
Yes, I’m looking for answers and finding the ones that suit me but so are many other people which is validation enough for me. Because after all, I do need to justify my obsession and insanity.
Welcome to Design of the Picture Book! I'm Carter Higgins, and I'm a writer and librarian for kids. I spent a spectacular stint as the Children's Book Editor at <a href="http://www.designmom.com/">Design Mom</a> which I loved! You can find my column <a href="http://www.designmom.com/category/childrens-lit/">here</a>.<br /> I'm a K-6 librarian, a former-ish graphic designer, an SCBWI member, and a huge fan of words and pictures.<br /> Represented by <a href="http://www.rpcontent.com/">Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content, LLC</a>.